Inslee names Bridges, Levinson to Public Disclosure Commission

OLYMPIA — He presided over the legal challenge of the historic 2004 gubernatorial election.

She led the statewide campaign to preserve Washington’s gay marriage law in 2012.

Now John Bridges and Anne Levinson will put their legal acumen and political knowledge to work enforcing the state’s labyrinth of campaign spending laws as members of the Public Disclosure Commission.

Gov. Jay Inslee made the appointments Tuesday, culminating a nearly yearlong search and giving the five-member commission a full contingent for the first time in Inslee’s tenure.

“The governor preferred to take time to appoint the right people,” Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith wrote in an email. “He was looking for appointees who bring a strong commitment to fairness and integrity. And, quite frankly, it can be hard to find people willing to serve in a role that is so often politicized.”

Bridges will begin Dec. 8 and fill the vacancy created when Barry Sehlin of Oak Harbor completed his term in December 2014. Bridges will serve the remaining four years of the five-year term.

Levinson will join the commission Jan. 1 and succeed Commissioner Kathy Turner who is stepping down. Levinson will serve a full term.

Bridges, an attorney, was the Chelan County Superior Court judge who presided over the lawsuit which sought to overturn Democrat Chris Gregoire’s defeat of Republican Dino Rossi in 2004.

Rossi and the state Republican Party had sued to set aside the closest governor’s race in the nation’s history, which Gregoire won by 129 votes after a hand recount of more than 2.8 million ballots.

They argued there were enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the election but in June 2005, after a two-week trial, Bridges ruled that there had not been enough evidence of deliberate acts of election sabotage.

Levinson, a Seattle attorney and former Municipal Court judge, chaired the Approve Referendum 71 campaign in 2009, which defeated the attempted repeal of the state’s domestic partnership law. In 2012, she chaired the committee for the Approve Referendum 74 campaign, which turned back the attempted repeal of the state’s marriage equality law.

“Ensuring that the letter and the spirit of the State’s disclosure laws are fully met is critically important to maintaining public trust in the integrity of the electoral and governing processes,” she wrote in her application for the position.

“The continually increasing influence of money and special interests in campaigns and governance makes our state’s requirements for transparent and understandable reporting, public access to government records, disclosure of elected officials’ sources of income and interactions with lobbyists as important today as they have ever been,” she wrote.

Commissioners receive $100 for any day they work and can be reimbursed for travel.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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